Therapy (Counseling) Can Be For Everyone

“We may define therapy as a search for value.” – Abraham Maslow

It’s amazing how much the stigma around mental health has waned in the very recent past. I remember growing up when people talked about therapy and mental health issues, it was automatically assumed anyone associated with any sort of mental issue was crazy. And anyone who went to therapy was assumed to be weak, both mentally and emotionally.

These days, it is a lot more acceptable and normalized, but there are definitely occasions where the stigmatic attitude towards therapy is still commonplace. I think the most important thing to realize off the bat, is that people going to therapy, usually are not going because they have some wild mental illness. No, the majority of people go to therapy because they are dealing with some life altering challenges or have a set of circumstances that they are having a hard time coping with. And with that, comes their own well-being affecting how they function through daily life.

Everybody goes through challenges like that at some point in their life, so you’re not alone. You could be dealing with work stressors or personal life stressors, or maybe it’s both at the same time. And at some point the effects of these challenges can mount up and start to become too overwhelming for anyone to handle. That is where therapy can come in and help provide not only support and a willing/objective ear, but also give you the tools to better deal with whatever challenges you may be facing.

So I say all of that to say that I myself have gotten back into therapy, or counseling, as I prefer to call it personally. I started counseling back in my senior year of high school when I realized I had anxiety issues, but during my college years I forewent doing sessions for a variety of reasons, other health issues being more prominent at the time for one. However, since graduating college in 2013, I have gone back and forth with it. These last couple months have been trying for me. It’s not one specific thing, but it is a cumulative amounts of situations, professionally and personally, that have had me up, down, and around like a roller coaster. The crazy thing is, none of these things if left alone in a vacuum would affect me that much, but when everything seems to be happening at once, that’s when the walls feel like they’re closing in on me. Needless to say that when that overwhelming feeling hits me, my anxiety is ramped up and my days are clogged because of it and I don’t have the ability to untangle them on my own.

So to have the ability to go to counseling and be able to talk out my struggles is such a saving grace. I have gone back to my old ways recently, keeping things bottled up and letting them fester until I can feel myself ready to explode at any second. I know how much counseling has helped me with that in the past, and I know how much it will help me going forward.

In fact, I had my counseling session today and the breath of fresh air I felt afterwards is indescribable. I came out of it with a new perspective on a certain situation and how to approach it in the healthiest way. That’s the good stuff, that’s when it’s easy to say, “Ah man, therapy is so great, so healthy. You should do it too!”. That was today though, and that is not the norm, not for me at least. Usually each session is harder and more painful than the last in my personal experience.

One thing counseling has done for me, is that it has forced me to take a hard look at myself and take accountability for aspects of my life that I used to blame on other circumstances or other people. And I’ll be honest, those days are more so the rule instead of the exception for me. Having to face all my flaws and have them out and the open to be addressed is both agitating and downright scary at times. Most importantly though, having to face them has essentially humbled me. It’s made me realize how much work I have to do on myself before I can expect anything out of others.

There are times in counseling where I’ve felt so painfully vulnerable and embarrassed. When I’m asked what feels like so many invasive and personal questions about myself that I have a hard time answering. The best way I can describe it, is that I feel emotionally and mentally naked. I can’t hide here, I am open in every conceivable way.

With all that said, and even though it sounds counter intuitive, I think feeling all of that is a good thing, a healthy thing. I’ll say this to people who may have never done therapy/counseling before and are perhaps interested in finally taking that plunge.. it is hard, unshielded, frightening, but ultimately rewarding work.

When you first start, there are a lot of parts to it that can be difficult and embarrassing. But I think the first step is realizing that despite those initial feelings, in the long run, this will benefit you. So through the embryonic stage of your counseling journey, you may tap into some negative emotions and perhaps painful memories as you explore your issues. That process can be overwhelming, because instead of cutting the head off the problem you came for, it is like you’re finding new ones to add on top of that. It’s like you’re drowning in the psychological energy you were trying to push far away.

One thing I can promise though, is that feeling does not last forever! It is the beginning of a journey towards feeling great, better than you’ve ever felt in your life. That doesn’t mean you won’t have some sessions where you leave feeling like crap again, but as you mature in your journey, you realize that those days are bound to happen, but yet your overall trend is shooting in a positive direction and that you find yourself healing and getting healthier with each visit.

Therapy/Counseling certainly may not be something everyone desires or feels like they need, but I will live my life believing that everyone can absolutely benefit from it. There are certainly low lows with it, but there are a lot of high highs as well. I can only speak for myself at this point, but know that despite how hard it can be at first, you will come out on the other side so much healthier than you went in.

I hope that if you were on the edge of taking the leap of faith, that maybe by reading this, I helped push you off that ledge.

This Is For Me

Recently I have been at a crossroads with this whole blogging thing. At first I was really excited to open myself up and share the thoughts and feelings I have that I’ve kept buried my whole life. I had always written for myself and been totally content with that until a friend or two encouraged me to perhaps start a blog. They thought my words would benefit those who read my stuff because so many people go through similar experiences. It’s nice to have a voice that shows you that you are not alone in your struggles. Even with all that said, the idea of starting this blog was not something I wanted to entertain at first, for a multitude of reasons.

  • I was scared of being vulnerable for everyone to see.
  • I was scared of whatever I wrote being made fun of.
  • I was scared of nobody reading what I wrote.
  • I was scared that nobody would care.

If I asked you what the common theme of what that list entails, you’d probably say “being scared”. But what I see when I look at what I just wrote down, is that I’m basing all of my fears off of what others think and feel about what I write, instead of how I feel. And at the end of the day, before I started this blog, I wrote for myself and myself only. That was all I needed because it was an outlet for me and my feelings, my emotions, my thoughts, my perspectives. I didn’t write for others, I wrote for myself, and that is what I have gotten away from.

I recently started an Instagram page solely for my blog. I started it for people who wanted to follow what I had to write and could keep up with my updated posts without burdening the people who follow my personal Instagram page with unwanted content. But with that, I found myself full of angst because I became worried about whether anyone would want to follow my blog page, and if they did, would they even take the time to check out my updated posts or would they simply scroll past it without giving it a second thought.

Being filled with that kind of anxiety took a toll on me mentally. I can see the exact number of people who even click on my blog, whether they read it or not, and the numbers were low. After seeing that, the fears I had before starting the blog, came to the forefront. I lost some self confidence, I got down on myself, I told myself that no cares what I have to say so why bother? That I should probably shut it down if no one is going to read it.

However, within the last day or so, I talked to a couple of friends who gave me a different perspective, and reminded me of the reasons why this blog was started in the first place. One friend said, “You can’t be afraid of what other people think or say. You have to be you. Your problem is you rely on other people to be your support system… but you need to support yourself as well.” She came at me hard, but she was absolutely right and I had to admit that.

I feel like I am self aware enough to realize I fall under the trap of external validation. I look for acceptance and approval from others because of my insecurities, and it is a constant battle I work through, one of the many. And so that is where my lack of self esteem and my anxiousness about this blog, and the blog IG page, comes from in this particular case. That my feelings, my thoughts, my emotions, my words were not validated if others didn’t read them or if I didn’t receive any feedback on them.

I recently talked on the phone with another friend, and talking to her in all her wisdom forced me to take a step back and check myself a bit. The gist of her words to me were that if I feel like this is too much of a stressor, then there is nothing wrong with stopping and writing for myself again. BUT she made a point to remind me of how nervous I was before I started the blog and how brave it was for me to open myself up for others to see. So whether anyone read it or not, I’ve already did the most courageous thing, and that was allow myself to be vulnerable for any and everybody. Anything else outside of that is just the cherry on top.

One quote that sticks out to me in relation to all that was by Marissa Mayer. She said the following, “I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that is how you grow. When there’s that moment of, ‘Wow, I’m not really sure I can do this’, and you push through those moments, that’s when you have a breakthrough.”

I had to get back to the mindset of why I started this in the first place, and that was for myself. To get the courage to open myself up, to be honest about my struggles, honest about my anxiety, and honest about the parts of my life that I’ve mostly kept to myself. I use to be someone to bottle everything in, but having this page has been so freeing in so many ways. I now know that the ups and downs of life, the mental and emotional struggles, are not unique to me.

So many people have dealt with similar things as I have, and I didn’t truly comprehend that until I started this. And so my second goal was to do for others what this page did for me. To show someone who used to feel like me, like they had to keep everything hidden, that they are not alone in dealing with whatever they may be going through.

Patience, patience, patience, and more patience. As much as I want to reach everyone at once, I had to realize that I just started this blog like 2 months ago. It takes time to build an audience, to build a following. Another friend, I have some pretty dope friends by the way, told me that I can’t expect to blow up overnight. She encouraged me to collaborate with others, to attend events that are similar to what I write about, to promote myself within my circle and expand from there. Just because a lot of eyes aren’t seeing this now, doesn’t mean down the road they won’t. It’s all about patience, something I lack a lot of the time but one of the many things I continue to work on. And to be honest, what goes into being a big blogger, the brand promotion and marketing specifically, is not a real goal of mine. I didn’t start this wanting to become something bigger than I am, and that will never be something I chase with this.

At the end of the day, this blog is ultimately for me. If I start worrying about what others will think or what will get more eyeballs to my page, I risk losing myself, my authentic self. I’ll write when I am inspired to write and make sure I write about my genuine thoughts and feelings. If I do that, maybe down the road that is where people may eventually see what I have written here. But whether or not people see it, at least I can be comfortable knowing I was true to myself. That’s what is most important to me.

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My Favorite Woman

“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

Exodus 20:12

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That title leaves a door open for me to go a couple of ways with this post, BUT there is only way I could conceivably go, and that is talking about my mom. She is the unsung hero of my life, and I hate that I don’t talk about her enough to others, so this is my small way of correcting that.

I will start with more present day features and work my way backwards so you guys can see the kind of woman she is now and who she’s been her whole life.

Right now, my dad is out of the country for three years for work purposes, and rarely will get a chance to visit. Their communication is limited to phone calls every now and then depending on where my dad is on that particular day. My brother and sister are both out of the house, my brother living with his fiancé in Maryland and my sister is in Blacksburg at Virginia Tech. And of course, I live out of the house as well, which leaves my mom in a decently sized 4 bedroom house companion-less.

Well except for our couple of pets, Rio the bird and Luna the kitten! As much as having a little company helps, it obviously pails in comparison to having human interaction.

My mom works, so she’s not home bound 24-7, but it has been tough for her to come home to an empty house every night. She won’t ever say it or admit it, and she will put on a brave and happy face, but my mom definitely gets lonely. I try to visit as much as can, sometimes going over on weeknights for dinner, or staying a day over the weekend here and there, but with my schedule, I don’t get over there as much as I’d like.

Still, despite being on her own for the most part, my mom has been amazing at maintaining such a positive attitude. She never fails to send a good morning text to me that always reads, “Good morning – have a wonderful day! Love you!”. My day doesn’t feel like it can officially start until I receive that text from her at 8:30am every morning.

That’s just a small example of the kind and caring woman she is. One of my aunts, her sister, has LUPUS, and anyone who knows about that disease understands the awful effects it can have on a person. My mom on 3 occasions has had my aunt fly out from South Carolina to spend time with her here in Virginia, sometimes for months at a time in order to be able to take care of her if needed and just provide company. There’s a whole deeper story there involving my aunt, but I’ll just say that having my mom bring her out here was a saving grace.

Another quick example of her unfeigned caring nature is when sometimes she notices I may be struggling with particular bills that I mention to her in passing conversation, and next thing I know, she is either adding money to my account or helping pay a bill that month. All of that without me knowing until after the fact. That’s just the kind of woman she is and the woman that taught me to be as giving as she is, to others.

I know everyone loves their moms and moms are supposed to take care of their children, but you will have trouble convincing me that anyone has gone to the lengths that my mom has for my family. I wish I could list all the examples that are immersed in my mind when thinking of all the amazing undertakings she has done for us over the years.

One thing that sticks out is that my mom, starting with me playing basketball when I was 8 and up until my brother finished playing college football and my sister playing volleyball in between, she would never miss a game for any of her kids. Whether it was home or away, within reason, you could count on my mom to be there for us, supporting us every step of the way.

This just came to my mind but I remember one instance, one very embarrassing instance I might add, back when I was in 1st grade. It was a windy and chilly morning during winter in Virginia, and the bus stop for school was about 1 block away from where our townhouse was. Walking towards the bus stop that morning was unbearable. The wind was gusting, and the brisk nature of it blasting in my face made it hard for me to breath. So much so that I had to turn around and try to walk backwards to fight against it. My mom saw this from the warmth of home, came outside in her PJs (a throwaway t-shirt and thin bottoms that were helpless against cutting cold) and covered me from the wind so I could make it the bus. Obviously, and probably deservedly so, I got ridiculed by the other kids on the bus and I will never probably never live that shame down, but I digress!

At the time I was too young to really appreciate what she did in that moment for me. Sacrificing her comfort without thought to assist me in getting to the bus, which seems so doltish on my part looking back on it. I remember that specific instance so vividly and y’all, I can’t tell you how inhumanely cold it was that day. But even still, my mom came to my rescue. Those are just one of many examples of my mom putting everyone else before herself.

I’ll finish off with what I consider the biggest example that I can share about my mom. And that is just the selfless commitment she had given to my dad as he got into his career as they started their life together. My mom was studying for her nursing degree and was on her way to graduate when my parents met. Around the same time my dad starting working for the government, and long story short, forced them to move from where she always called home in South Carolina. We lived in New Jersey for a short period of time before making a new home in Virginia. My mom decided to forego her nursing degree and instead got her Associates in order to be able to go with my dad. And because of the nature of my dad’s work, it meant he was going to be forced to move a lot in the coming years as he grew in his career. So my mom decided to switch course and work her way into government work as well so that when we moved every couple years, there would always be work for her no matter where we went, which was out of the country for the majority of my childhood.

She doesn’t talk about it much but I know she loved nursing and would have made a wonderful career from it. However, she decided her commitment to my dad and his dreams was worth letting hers go.

There just aren’t enough words to describe the gratefulness I have for being blessed with her as a mother. I know not everyone is fortunate enough to have that kind of parent in their lives, and that is not lost on me. I can never do anything to replicate the love she has given me over the years, but the least I can do is continue to be there for her as much as I can while my dad is away. To try and give that same level of love and care that she’s shown everybody else in her life. It’s time for my mom to be taken care of now.

Most of all, with this post, I wanted to give you all just a glimpse of the woman that’s raised me. This post and everything I’ve said in it, does not do justice to her in representing all the incredible little things she does on the daily basis. I wish I could list them all and go through them one by one, but hopefully this will suffice for now.

“Of all the gifts that life has to offer, a loving mother is the greatest of them all”

Refresh Your Faith

Do you ever feel as if making time for God becomes more of a chore than a pleasure and a blessing? Do you go through spells where you can sense a bit of doubt in your faith? Or do you just have times where life tends to get so insane that even finding five minutes for God seems impossible? I have, and in a honest moment, I am sure a lot of believers have had those same thoughts and doubts.

To be honest here, I have been feeling that way recently. I have not been as keen on getting to church on Sundays as I had been. Partly because I have clients on Sunday mornings, but even on the last couple Sundays where I haven’t had clients, I decided not to go to church. For the longest time, I would get up early before having to go to work, some days 4:30am, just to make sure I start my day with God by doing devotionals. However, the last week or so, Instead of waking up earlier, I have chosen to maybe get a few extra minutes of sleep.

That may not seem like the biggest deal, but to me, it shows an apathy that is developing with my faith. If you were to ask me how my relationship with God is, I’d probably have to answer honestly with “monotonous and stale”. And even though I am trying to grow in faith, I feel like I am failing. I compare myself to those friends that have an undying faith and see their constant passion for God in every word that they utter. I am jealous at times, because I wish I could have my faith be that passionate every single second of every single day of every single week of every single year. I also realize, that is something I can control, and it starts with refreshing my faith.

A relationship with God is supposed to be active and alive because that is how we maintain an intimate fellowship with Him. So in order to do that, I needed to step back and find a couple ways to ignite that faith. So I’ll share what I have thought about in that regard that can help set you on the right path.

HAVE A CONVERSATION

If you are a believer as I am, then you know God is a real, live being with whom we can have real conversations with. But so many times, when we pray to God, we act as if it is a one sided conversation. We may have a list of prayers for Him, we run it down and then we’re done and move on with our day. So my thought is, we don’t interact this way with other live beings, so why do we do that with God? Conversations involve a back and forth with someone, and so that is what I am trying to encourage myself to do moving forward.

A conversation with God obviously won’t be your typical one where you see God tangibly talking back, but I do believe God can speak back to us through our intuitiveness. I want to approach my time with God by opening up my heart to Him and talking things out. I want to be able to get His feedback through this small voice that can only be clear enough when I slow down to listen to it. It’ll be awkward at first, but these are how relationships are built, one awkward step at a time.

WORSHIP

When people think of worship, they think of hymns and singing songs at the beginning and end of church, or words of thanks in our prayers. All are important aspects to worship, but it also goes so far beyond that. We are surrounded and reminded by His goodness every day and I think that can be just as important as everything else I mentioned above. Think about praising Him when you see gorgeous snowfall like we did last week in the DC area, or when waking up in the morning and driving to work and seeing a gorgeous sunrise. All of that and everything in between is an awesome reminder of how great our God is.

In order to really worship, we should be thankful and awe-inspired enough to not take for granted all that surrounds us, for all that surrounds us, is His creation.

SLOW DOWN

I may have mentioned above that one of the things I personally need to do is slow down. I work 7 days a week between my corporate fitness job and my personal training job. If I am not at one place, then you can usually catch me at the other. My weekdays average about 14 hours a day and a lot of times it will be more than that.

On one of my previous blog posts, I wrote a little about being an introvert. And so by being an introvert, it takes a lot of energy in me to stay engaged with clients or co workers throughout the day. So when I finally am able to shut it down, I feel nothing but drained and can barely form a logical thought. By the time I feel refreshed and rested, it’s time to start again and on goes the cycle. I may get up and read my devotionals in the morning, and before I lay my head to sleep, I may say my prayers for the day, but in between those bookends to the day, there is not much interaction with me and God.

Maybe the best way to ignite my faith again and live passionately for it, is to slow down and simply be still. I can’t connect with God if I don’t first stop and allow Him to. With as busy a schedule as I have, there are windows in my workday where I can close off for a few minutes and allow my ears and my heart to open and look for that small voice to have that conversation with.

It may be awkward at first, and the voice you hear may not even be God’s, it could just be your own thoughts. But the more slowing down and being still is practiced, the more you’ll hear, and maybe the more clearly you’ll be able to discern your thoughts from God’s.

COMMUNITY

This last one is a personal one for me. I am such a loner most of the time, and in some cases that is okay, but I know God finds it important that we find communities of like minded believers as well. Being with God one on one is valuable, but I am starting to realize that there is as much value in being with a community as well.

I go to church when I can, I sing the songs they perform, I am intent on the words of the pastor as I sit with fellow believers. But community is so much more than that, because using Jesus as an example, even though he talked to big groups of people, most of his time was spent in small groups.

I want to use that as an example to not just go to church and listen to sermons, but I also want to find a group where I can confide and learn from when it comes to our faith. To have people who are able to hold one another accountable when we may be getting off the path. To have people to continue to grow with and support one another.

Community is formed within the realms of our real lives, and so it is important for me specifically to find people to surround myself with that help encourage me within my faith and who draw me closer to God.

I am looking forward to continuing my growth in my faith this year, and finding that community that I just mentioned above that will serve as a constant encouragement for me in my ever changing and ever growing journey.

I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.

Jeremiah 31:25

Word Vomit

Oh hello! Yes I am still here, although me being M.I.A. the last couple weeks would be evidence to the contrary. These last few weeks have been a whirlwind for me. We were short staffed at work, so my responsibilities added up with more classes to teach and more administrative work to get done. I fell sick for a few days that really took my energy out for a bit and am just now getting back to feeling 100% again. However, as valid as those excuses would be as to why I have not posted, it really comes down to not knowing what to write about.

But before I even get to that part, let me explain the title of this post. First off, I hate the act of vomiting. It’s unholy feeling and just downright unpleasant to see stuff come up from the stomach and out your mouth. Yuck! But vomiting has taught me one thing, and that is that sometimes you just have to let it out! When it comes to writing, it is important just to get some words out.

I am obviously not a writer, but I think it is fair to say I had some writer’s block lately when it comes to this blog. People with that kind of block want to polish their work, obsess over every angle, every tone set, and every topic brought up. When I realized that is what I was doing, I reminded myself of why I even started this blog, and so I just need to let the thoughts fly! Hence the name, “Word Vomit”!

When I first started this blog, I had so many things that I wanted to get off my chest and talk about, so it was easy to find content. Lately though, life has been a slow grind, with nothing of note to talk about outside of work, or at least that is what I thought. But then I went back and realized that I didn’t start this blog to have a threshold that had to be met in order to post on here. No, my goal was to always speak on what was on my mind, sometimes it will be a big topic and sometimes it’ll just be a little bit about nothing, but the goal was to stay present with this.

So today, that it was I am doing. I am sitting at my desk with my laptop, earphones plugged in to my iPhone listening to music, a cup filled with my favorite sweetened iced tea that only mom can make, and my couple thoughts ready to pour out onto this screen.

Fact of the matter is, there are a few things that I COULD talk about. Specifically situations and feelings that have been prominent for me lately. But those situations are so fluid right now that I find it hard to put into words at the moment. I am sure I will circle back to them and share once my mind grasps all my thoughts and organizes them.

For today though, what I do know about them, is that the common thread of all those circumstances are my insecurities. Insecure about my place at work, despite things going absolutely great for me professionally these days. My direction there is still uncertain to me at times. Insecure about my place with certain friendships that seem to be teetering. And I am insecure about where I am going in life and what my final destination is meant to be when all is said and done.

Like I mentioned before, I am still trying to gain a firm understanding of where I am when it comes to the situations that I mentioned above, and so those aren’t what this post is about. But one thing I know is how I can start to approach them.

I met a friend to workout, a guy who I have known for years and happens to be one of those people who I know I can always talk to when needed. Recently was one of those times, due to everything I mentioned before. He said something that really struck home with me and wanted to share it here. Keep in mind, this guy is always full of positive energy and he has a way of spreading that energy to those around him. People who don’t know him would probably assume he has never had a bad day in his life. Obviously everyone has bad days, that is the way of life, but the way this person puts a positive spin on everything and stays the course is enviable.

So I asked him about how he got over some tough times in his life, and his advice was this. “I believe that everything happens for a reason. As long as I am the best version of me and put that into the world, then everything will fall into place like they are supposed to.” That hit heavy for me, because in essence, everything that I have been worried about over the last few weeks are things I can’t totally control. I can only control how I react and approach them, and as long as I do that to the best of my ability, I can be happy with myself and live with the consequences.

So that is something I am going to work on, and work on consciously. Taking a step back, gaining control of my thoughts, giving my worries to God, and constantly give my best in everything I do. If I can do all those things, then I allow myself to be free of the worry that those situations would give me otherwise.

Hopefully the next time I post, I have something a little more themed and well written out, but thanks for reading along and allowing me to write just to write today. Very short I know, so I hope I didn’t waste your time. It is amazing how genuinely therapeutic typing just a few words like this is! You should try it! 😉

Conquering My Fear!

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

John 14:27

So one of my first posts on this blog was being open about having anxiety and how it tends to rear its ugly head in my life from time to time. Along with that anxiety, I am also an introvert, which apparently is pretty common if you struggle with anxiety, especially social anxiety, from what I’ve read. This is not to mix the two up because they are completely different things.

Anxiety, socially, is when you fear being judged and examined by others which can lead to low self-esteem and the occasional depression episodes. Introversion is more of a temperament, where you may prefer time to yourself and within your own thoughts rather than having external stimulation.

I am both of these things to a “T”! Which is why it is ironic that I landed into the career field I am in. For those of you who don’t know, my life is all about fitness. I am a Personal Trainer at a commercial gym part time, but my full time job is working for a fitness contracting company that has me located in Washington D.C.

A lot of people associate personal trainers as the “rah rah” cheerleader types. This always outgoing, intense, in your face performer. People would look at trainers and automatically assume, “oh yeah, extrovert!”. That’s not necessarily the case, because there are shy extroverts and outgoing extroverts, as well as shy introverts and outgoing introverts. As with so many things in life, no one fits inside one prescriptive box, I sure don’t.

I would say I am a shy introvert, and for so long I saw that as an character flaw that would hold me back from so many things. But as I continue to learn more about myself at age 27, one of the things I am learning is that me being a shy introvert can be used in a positive way when it comes to my fitness career.

So the point of this post is this, I have constantly over come my fear of teaching group exercise classes over and over the last year and a half or so. Now to the average person, I am sure that doesn’t sound like something worth celebrating. But for the people who know me, and know how anxious I get being in front of people, they will be jumping for joy right along with me.

I am perfectly okay being one on one with a client, because it is an intimate setting where my sole focus is on them and their needs. I know exactly what this person wants/needs from me and I am confident enough with the knowledge I have gained in order to help this client get to where they need to. However, group exercise classes are a whole other story!

I never imagined myself ever being in a career where I would be asked to stand in front of a room, with all eyes focused on me for 45 minutes to an hour. The kid whose whole body would shake from head to toe during school presentations? No, there’s no way I could do that. But, with this fitness contracting opportunity I received, it was a necessary part of the job.

So when I was asked to teach my first boot camp class almost two years ago, all those symptoms of anxiety swept me up and engulfed me. The feeling of dread, the shortness of breaths, the trembling all over my body, and the constant self doubt. I had no idea how I was going to make it through. Would the class be hard enough? Would my instructions and cues make sense? Would they enjoy the music playlist I made specifically for them? All that and so much more was going through my mind as the time for class approached. I prepared and rehearsed the routine over and over and over until I had it memorized, down to the exact words I’d be using to cue them. Finally, class starts… and I am expecting maybe 9 or 10 people, but only 5 came. I wasn’t disappointed about that, I was actually relieved that I could ease into my first group class! And to my surprise it felt so natural, so easy, and everything came across so fluid. I got great feedback from the members who took the class and from my co workers who observed the class from afar.

To that point, I had done the hardest thing I could personally do in my fitness career, and that was to teach a group class!

Fast forward to a couple years later to the present, I have experience teaching all kinds of classes, from boot camps, to core, to High Intensity Interval Training, and everything in between. Every time I would teach a new class that I had not taught before, I would go through the same anxiousness as the very first time teaching a class of any sort. But with each passing class, and as my experience continues to grow, so does my confidence. So despite that anxiousness I still get before each class, I have the confidence that I put the work in and that will show through and I will give the members a workout that leaves them breathless, literally.

Which is why yesterday, February 6th, is somewhat of a milestone for me. One of my coworkers who teaches a group strength class had to go get surgery, and so I was picked to replace him as he recovers. Now a strength class in itself is not a big deal for me, I have taught plenty of strength classes over the last couple years. My biggest obstacle to hurdle over was that this would be the biggest class I had ever been in front of in my life. On average, there are about 30 people who attend this class regularly and have a specific way they like it to be taught. Again, for a lot of people, you’re probably reading this and saying, “what is the big deal?” And I would say to those people, it probably isn’t a big deal to you, but it is to me.

All the experience of group teaching goes out the window for me when I realize I am going to have 30 plus people staring me down waiting for me to instruct every single nuanced movement that this class requires. The two days beforehand, me preparing for this class was the only thing my attention was on. Going over the routine and fine tuning it over and over and over again until I felt it was absolutely perfect. Going over every single cue to make sure their technique was as clear as humanely possible for them to understand.

On the day of class, even maybe 10-15mins before, I was still going over every single detail I possibly could. But as class approached, and the members started filing in and getting their equipment, I took a big deep breath in and let out an emphatic exhale. In that moment I closed my eyes for a quick second and I told myself, “I have done this before, I know what I am doing and my routine is solid. Believe in yourself because you’ve proven to yourself over and over again that you can do this.” And after that, I opened my eyes to the 33 members who took my class and proceeded to have one of the best classes I have personally instructed.

This is obviously a very personal post about what I consider a major triumph for me. From being afraid of speaking in front of a class of my peers in school when I was a kid, to being the focal point of a group class of 30 plus people as an adult is such a personal success story! I just can tell how far I have come and I am so thankful for the continuous growth in that aspect. Being this naturally shy introvert, I would have never thought I would have the ability to ever do something so daunting.

One thing I also like to remind myself of is that while I fear people may be judging me and my performance, chances are that most of the people taking the class are more worried about their personal performance than mine. And there is something comforting in that.

I never thought teaching a group exercise class would be something I’d ever do, but now I can’t imagine my fitness life without it!

How Do You Let Go of Someone You Love?

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.

Ecclesiastes 3:1

Let me start off by answering the question with, I absolutely have no idea. I am not writing this because I found the secret solution to knowing when and how cut ties with someone. Not just someone who did you wrong by the way, who you have no real meaningful connection with to start off. Those are the easy ones to rid your life of. No, I’m going deeper here, I am talking about someone you’ve opened up to, someone who has seen you at your highest of highs and your lowest of lows.

How do you let go of someone who you’ve let seen so much of you, and who has let you see so much of them in return? It doesn’t have to be a romantic love, it definitely isn’t in my case, but a close friend or a maybe even a family member.

I am a stubborn person, and so I hate the idea of having to let go of someone who I care for so much, but it comes to the point where I had to ask myself, “Does this person serve a purpose in my life that outweighs the hurt and anguish I receive by engaging with them?”

I have to look within to answer that honestly, even though I may not like the answer I find. I think the first thing I had come to realize is that not all relationships/friendships are meant to stand the test of time. For so long, despite evidence to the contrary, I would try and salvage a relationship that had no business being saved. It honestly just took life experience to realize growing up can also mean growing apart.

It is important to remember that relationships go both ways, and if you’re not receiving back what you are giving out, then you holding onto to that will only cause you more discomfort and pain than just outright accepting that this is where the relationship should end.

I think it is only fair to point out that there are two sides to every story, and that despite how you may feel, everyone is going through something and has their own life to live. Sometimes that life may involve you, other times their life will take away from what they have to give to you. And the hard part is learning that that is okay!

Appreciate what you had with them, the fond memories, the milestones that were hit together, the deep conversations that got you through hard times, and the intimacy you shared once upon a time. Remember this friend, or maybe this lover, fondly and don’t take for granted the growing experiences you had with them.

But also realize what you need within a relationship, romantic or not, and be mindful of who is able to reciprocate those needs. Let go of the relationship that can not give back what you put in, and hopefully that opens you up for a relationship in the near future that can.

Speaking for me personally, I am finding freedom in being real with who I am and recognizing the specific needs I have without feeling guilty about having them anymore. It doesn’t mean that it is not absolutely gut wrenching to have to let go of this relationship, but when there is no more joy, no more growth, no more support, then it is time to move on.

It hurts to let go, but sometimes it hurts more to hold on.